Rolex Datejust 16019 'Burl wood'

Museum Piece
We were going to make a joke about this watch but couldn’t come up with one that wood work.

We were going to make a joke about this watch but couldn’t come up with one that wood work. Get it? Wood work..?

We have to admit that was lame. But this watch really doesn’t need a comedic introduction anyway. The reference is highly elusive and although it can be found in some 80's brochures, most collectors nor dealers ever handled one. Prior to this example the same applied to us. So let's start with the break-down of the reference number. The 1601 stands for the Datejust model with a precious metal, fluted bezel. But in this case a 9 is added, since not only the bezel is white gold; the entire case is!

Contrary to popular belief, precious metal Datejusts weren't that scarce, in fact; in 1945 it debuted solely in gold executions. Later on this "precious" position became more prominently claimed by the Day-Date, resulting in an increasing production of steel Datejusts. White-gold ones however, have always been rather uncommon, but most of them left the factory in the 60's and 70's. In 1978 Rolex introduced an upgraded movement for the Datejust, now featuring a quickset-function for the date. Just like with the Day-Date from '78 and onwards, the gold Datejust iterations were now also supplied with a sapphire crystal instead of the previously used plexiglass. Although still quite some yellow gold Datejust were being sold, the popularity (and thus production) of the white gold ones declined as it looked very similar to an "ordinary" steel Datejust, yet a way larger sum of money was required.

So here we have true stealth-wealth. Emphasised by the Oyster bracelet that was opted for, rather than the -in white gold- more conventional President bracelet. The bracelet alone is exceedingly rare and is unlikely to be seen on most other models. The '7206' stamped bracelet, alongside the still clearly visible hall-marks, has been made in Switzerland. That sounds obvious, but the majority of the scarce production, regarding the Oyster in this material, rather took place in South-America. It is believed only half a dozen Swiss ones ever saw the light of day.

The star of the show is the stunning dial made out of burl wood. The nerf in burl wood is made up of complex twists, spirals, and swirls that create unique wood grain patterns. The beautiful wood dial features applied 18k white gold baton markers and long painted minute markers in between. We've only come across 2 other 16019's with wood dials in the entirety of watch literature.

This collectors dream from 1983 is exceptionally well preserved, displaying a thick case, sharp edges, and super tight bracelet.